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Seatac Scofflaws

Phyllis Fletcher
06/20/2005

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the first day of summer. That means more traffic at SeaTac airport. And that means more people driving to SeaTac, and trying to avoid parking fees. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher went to SeaTac in search of parking scofflaws.

THEY WEREN'T HARD TO FIND. I TOOK THE FREEWAY AND FOLLOWED THE SIGNS TO SEATAC. RIGHT BEFORE I GOT TO THE WELCOME SIGN, I SAW THEM: TWO PICKUP TRUCKS PARKED ON THE SHOULDER.

FLETCHER: What are you doing out here today?"
GEORGE: "I'm waiting to have a meeting with a general contractor up here that's doing work on the airport."
A.C.: "Getting ready to go to work but I'm not trying to pay for parking."

FLETCHER: "And why did you choose this particular spot to pull over?"
GEORGE: "Umm. . . it looked to me like there were other cars here."
A.C.: "'Cause they were doin' it!"
BROOKE: [Laughs] "So, we figured it'd be OK."

WELL, YOU FIGURED WRONG.

OFFICER LONNA DUNSTONE SAYS THE TREND OF PEOPLE PARKING IN THE SHOULDER LANE STARTED LAST SUMMER.

DUNSONE: "And then it multiplied really quickly from there. Before you know it we were having, you know, groups of 6, or 8, or 10, or even a dozen cars out there at a time."

THE SHOULDER LANE IS SUPPOSED TO STAY CLEAR EXCEPT FOR CARS THAT ARE IN TROUBLE. SO OFFICER DUNSTONE CHECKS ON EVERY CAR SHE SEES.

DUNSONE: "Hi there, everything OK?"
MAN: "Yeah, I just got a headache."
DUNSTONE: "Oh, you're not feeling too good?"
MAN: "No."
DUNSTONE: "OK; are you sure you're gonna be good enough to drive?"
MAN: "Oh, I'll be fine, in a couple of minutes."

DUNSTONE: "Hi there, can I help you?"
WOMAN: "I pulled off to see--I must have left my flight number at home. It's OK to stop here a minute?"
DUNSTONE: "No, this is dangerous out here. I thought maybe you were having some problems with your car."
WOMAN: "Oh. OK. I'm gonna go ahead on in. . ."

SO, THEY TAKE OFF. DUNSTONE IS DIPLOMATIC ABOUT THEIR EXCUSES.

DUNSTONE: "It seemed like he was just a parker and not really disabled. By the time he pulled up, I could kinda tell."

DUNSTONE: "That gal, uh, pulled over for just a moment, uh, didn't exactly know where she was goin'. She's on her way safely, and that's kinda the mission."

SOME PEOPLE SIT ON THE SHOULDER SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO SHELL OUT TO PARK IN THE GARAGE.

DUNSTONE: "They've driven all the way to the airport, and, uh, I think it's just the idea of parking and they just feel like they shouldn't have to pay. A car just pulled ahead of me here. Let's go see if he needs the help of the police."

DUNSTONE: "Hi there, can I help you?"
MAN: "I just had to find out where I was supposed to pick him up."
DUNSTONE: "OK; and you're on your way?"
MAN: "I'm on my way."

THAT GUY WAS ON HIS CELL PHONE. HE COULD HAVE WAITED IN A SPECIAL PARKING LOT. IT'S FOR PEOPLE WAITING TO PICK UP PASSENGERS. IT'S FREE. BUT SO IS THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.

FLETCHER: "People always find a way to get over."
DUNSTONE: [Laughs] "Well, it seems like it."

IT SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA TO HANG OUT IN THE SHOULDER LANE-UNTIL YOU GET A TICKET. THAT'S A HUNDRED AND ONE DOLLARS. AT SEATAC AIRPORT, I'M PHYLLIS FLETCHER, KUOW NEWS.

Copyright 2005, KUOW

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